As I’ve covered here before, low-priced, technically acceptable procurements (LPTA) shine a light on a contractor’s ability to provide the required services at the lowest possible cost to the government. Leave your style points at home. It is all about getting lean to win the award.
But when the evaluation is that simple, is there any room to challenge an LPTA award decision? The answer is Yes — and a recent GAO protest offers some important insights into best practices.
The protest concerned an Air Force contract to provide tactical recovery kits. Covering both LPTA bases, the protester argued that the agency (1) unreasonably found the awardee technically acceptable and (2) conducted inadequate discussions concerning price.
On the first question, GAO disagreed that the agency erred in evaluating the awardee’s proposal. Stated differently, the agency determined that the awardee’s proposal was technically acceptable and GAO found no basis for overturning that conclusion.
With the technical acceptability side settled, only the question of the lowest price remained.
The protester argued that the agency held inadequate discussions, but GAO would not consider the issue because it lacked a key allegation. Specifically, the protester never alleged that it would have lowered its price if the discussions had been adequate. Without that allegation, GAO found there could be no prejudice. The awardee remained technically acceptable and offered the lowest price.
Although it was unsuccessful, this protest nevertheless offers a great roadmap for firms considering an LPTA protest. If possible, the protest should identify that the awardee was not, in fact, technically acceptable. In that case, the award should skip over that offeror and proceed to the next in line.
In the alternative, the protest should identify a procurement error resulting in a misevaluation of your firm’s price (i.e., the missing element of the protest examined in this post). It only makes sense that a LPTA protest should take a stance on your firm’s ability to offer the government the lowest price.